Rusbatch shooting skills power Hawks
An Ethan Rusbatch shooting masterclass powered the Hawke’s Bay Hawks to a bounceback first win of the New Zealand NBL season at Pettigrew Green Arena.
The Tall Blacks shooting guard poured in a game-high 34 points as the Hawks shook off their season-opening 106-79 defeat to the Wellington Saints a day earlier and defeated Jeff Green’s Supercity Rangers 98-86 in Napier last night.
Rusbatch, a contender for Paul Henare’s Tall Blacks to head to the World Cup in China, had the hot hand throughout as he made 12 of his 20 shots, including 7 of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. He added 8 rebounds and a pair of assists to complete an outstanding all-round performance.
Chief support came from import EJ Singler who chipped in with a quality double-double of 26 points (10/24 FG), 12 rebounds and 3 assists as the Hawks finished the opening round 1-1. Dion Prewster added 15 points at an efficient 5-of-10 clip for the victors who got 89 of their 98 points from their starting five.
The Rangers hung with the Hawks early, but the margin grew to nine by halftime (50-41) and 15 (78-63) at the final break. The Rangers, also 1-1 at the end of opening round, were paced by a double-double of 26 points,14 boards and 3 steals from Aussie Venky Jois.
American signing Tim Quarterman finished with 19 points (7/22 FG), 8 rebounds, 4 asissts and 4 steals, though Jaylen Gerrand did chip in with 10 points off the bench.
Meanwhile, a balanced performance from the Nelson Giants starters got them up to a statement 93-78 opening victory over the Taranaki Mountainairs at home.
Aussie signings Rhys Vague (21 points) and Daniel Grida (15 points, 7 boards) made handy contributions, as did American import, and Australian NBL regular, Jordair Jett who chipped in with 17 points and 7 assists in a polished Giants performance.
All five Nelson starters made strong contributions, with Tall Blacks squad member Tyrell Harrison chipping in with 10 points (4/7 FG), 7 boards and a pair of steals, while Sam Dempster added 13 points (5/10 FG), 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. It’s the ideal start for the Giants who are hoping to pick up as many wins as possible before Finn Delany and Mika Vukona return to bolster their depth.